The Ultimate Pre-Launch Checklist For Shopify Stores
Launching a new store is no short of an emotional rollercoaster. It is as overwhelming as it can get. You might feel like starting off right away and fill those wallets, but it’s like cutting your legs off to run faster. Not something that you want. This article will help you make sure that you have everything in place and make your cash register to go Cha-Ching!
WHO states that 60% of patients worldwide have one of six key safety measures missed during surgery. Now that is alarming! So to avoid life-threatening mistakes, WHO encourages surgeons to use a checklist.
This story dates back to 2008, when a lady with severe arthritis came in, and was immediately given an antibiotic, wheeled to the operating room and anesthetized. A surgeon who has been performing this operation for years was about to begin with the operation.
But, just when she was about to go under the knife, they realized that there were out of prosthetic knees! Something that has resulted in 7 million patients disabled every year.
All thanks to the checklist, they realized their mistake before it was too late, and the surgery was postponed.
Rolling without a checklist can be dangerous, and sometimes it can kill all that you have got.
Make it or break it – First impressions matter
First Impressions can take a toll on you if not done right. You might think you might as well take the store live and then keep building it as the days pass. Here is my advice – Don’t do it.
A few months back I stumbled upon a lifestyle store. Let’s just say my first impression was not that ‘impressive’. The images took long to load; I had no idea what a $10 blue vase looked like. I thought of searching for blue vases and but could not find a search bar. If only they had a chat option, I would have asked them about the kind of vases they had. My experience of the store was ‘limiting’.
That same evening, the $10 vase kept appearing on my Facebook feed (now I at least knew its appearance), but I never looked back.
Then last week, my friend got this cool lampshade. I was taken aback when she said the name of the store she bought it from. I came back home and re-visited the store. To my amazement, it looked like a maseeha had laid hands upon it. If it wasn’t for my friend, I wouldn’t have known about this drastic makeover. Anyways, that day, they just got themselves a new customer.
If you ask me, depending on a friend to bring back lost users is not something you should put your bets on.
Starting off on the wrong foot is like digital suicide. You don’t want to go down that lane. As Ankesh Kothari puts it- “We are all victims of haste”. We want to reap results before we strive for it. But again, no matter how much time you have spent, there is always something that you tend to miss out on.
For your store to face the world you need a solid checklist. A checklist that will help you bag more sales.
Checklist for Shopify stores to drive sales
Website load time
If your store does not load within 3 seconds, you can start packing your bags right now, well that is what users will be doing as well when they visit your site. Website load speed is something that you need to make sure is lightning fast.
Here is a site where you can check website load time – GTmetrics.
Here is how you can check page load time on Google Analytics –
Optimize all your images
Make sure that images load really fast. Product images, after all, play a vital role in making users realize how the products look. If the images take a long time to load, you might just lose out on a potential customer. The idea to not only to reduce the size but also maintain its quality.
Read more about product images in this article.
The title, meta description needs to be written keeping in mind the keyword users might search for so that your page reflects in the search results. Make sure that the meta description is catchy, encouraging users to click on it. An exhaustive meta description will have what the page is all about (the products on the page) and why users should buy from it.
Image alt text should be added to all the images. If the images fail to load due to some reason, the users will know what the image is about due to the alt text. The idea is to mention exactly what the image is and also try to get it picked when a user searched for it in a search engine.
You can check if you have broken links here.
There is no way you can choose to ignore mobile responsiveness, in today’s mobile-first world. A mobile-friendly store becomes a starting point for Google to index and it plays a vital role in improving your rankings. A site might get ranked higher than you just because it was mobile responsive.
Here is what Jade, a Shopify employee, shared with us-
You can check your website using your phone to make sure that everything is working and that it looks professional. Another way I found is to go to your website > right click and select Inspect. You can also click the icon on the top right that looks like mobile devices:
This lets you see and click through your website on mobile. I’m using a Mac for these steps so they might be different on a PC. If you click on Online you can see what your website looks like on different types of devices”
Jade, Shopify Employee
Header Logo in place to increase recall value
People remember visuals more than words. A logo gives your store a face and helps users recollect your store. The placement of the logo plays an important role as well. You don’t want it to be too big, occupying precious space, nor should it seem nonexistent.
Clear login option
Users need to log in to see all that they have saved. Having a login/account option makes it easier for the users to find it. But make sure that you do not make login compulsory for a user to make a purchase. When a user is just about to buy a product, one of the worst things you can do is add more steps and delay the conversion process. Users tend to drop off when they have to fill lengthy forms.
Search bar and filtering
Give users an option to search for a product they are looking for. You might not have placed it on the homepage. A search bar becomes a quicker option to look for things especially when they have no idea on which page it can be found. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for users to reach the product and convert.
Also check if the search bar auto-suggests, making it convenient for the user to click on it or find out what else you have in your store that is related to their search.
Cart option for repeat users to buy directly
It so happens that users forget they have something in their cart. When they re-visit your store, it becomes easy for them to check what they have left behind. It also becomes easy for users to directly make a purchase and not keep searching for the cart button. That’s why the cart finds its place in the header.
Smooth navigation is essential. Provide users with categories from which they can choose from to make it easier for them. You also need to double check if the categories are linked to the right pages. You don’t want to send a user who has clicked on men’s wear to women lingerie.
Make sure your best products are displayed on your homepage, to encourage them to stay in your store longer. Make them pleasing to the eye and do not overcrowd.
Show them that you can be reached out to your socials as well. If users do not find a chat button, they might contact you via social media channels. Also, it might just help you increase your followers! Social presence helps improves authenticity as well.
Contact us page
This page needs to be present for users to know you are genuine. Show the user that you are there for them if they need any help. Provide your email address to which they can write to, a toll-free number (any phone number can also do) and your address.
When I look back at our 1st few weeks/months, the initial sales came primarily from friends and personal connections. We gradually started getting new customers in the 2nd/3rd month of operations. It is important for a new store owner to come across as authentic and trustworthy to potential buyers. A few ways to do that: ensure that contact information is displayed clearly on website, make it easy for visitors to contact you, respond to emails immediately, be always available on phone/Whatsapp/FB messenger to answer queries.
Jayanti Gupta, Founder, Parinita
You can add a short form as well so that the users need not open their mail to ask a question. Make sure you thank them after the form is submitted and inform them by when they would receive a response.
Here is what Jade had to say –
The Contact Page is pretty straight-forward. What lots of people don’t know is that you don’t need an app to create a contact form on your website for your customers to reach you because Shopify already has one that you can add for free.
When you follow the steps on how to create a Contact Page here, make sure to follow Step #5 that says to select page.contact in the template section like this:
About us page
An ‘About us’ page is essential, but the most neglected. The users need to know from whom they are buying from. A golden opportunity to establish that your store is legitimate. Be honest, don’t go over the top. Tell users your journey, how you overcame the challenges, what you sell, why you sell it, how it can help them solve their problems, and so on.
You can add photographs to assure users that you as an owner, is genuine. Write an interesting bio, tell them something fascinating about you and include them in your personal realm. You can add a video as well to engage the audience and make it look lively.
Let’s have a look at what Jade has to say –
The About Us page should be very well thought out because this is the page where people are being introduced to your business. A good tip is to try to avoid cliche statements that have lost their meaning due to overuse such as “Great low prices!”, “Good quality”, etc.
Two articles that are good resources to help you create an amazing About Us page are:
-The Untapped Potential of About Us Pages (And How to Write Your Own)
-How to Get a Date With George Clooney (or Write the Perfect Ecommerce About Page)
Refund Policy Page
Show users that you care about them. If they are unhappy with the product, you will be happy to get it returned/exchanged. This encourages users to make a purchase.
Jade explains how you can create a refund policy on Shopify-
A Refund Policy doesn’t have to be done from scratch. Shopify has a template that you can use to create your Refund Policy and edit it as you like.
The steps to create a Refund Policy are two parts-
a) Here are the first set of steps that show you how to use Shopify’s sample refund policy. This will make your Refund Policy appear on the checkout page.
b) In order to make your Refund Policy appear on your website as well (which I highly recommend as a must) you will need to create a page for it using these steps and then add that page to your Navigation. Most people add their Refund Policy and any other policies they make to their footer (bottom of their website).
Crisp and catchy product description
Make sure you have explained your products well. The user should get to know what exactly the product is, its uses, the material it is made of etc. Imagine just having your boot polish next to a shoe and nothing wrote next to it! Users might get confused on what you are selling or if you will get both the products. The catch here is to make it short as well as interesting. You can have a look at some product descriptions here.
Variants of products displayed (If applicable)
If you have different variations of the same product, make sure you show them. It could be different colors it is available in as well. A size chart needs to be mentioned for a user to get a clear idea of what they should be buying.
Clear pricing and delivery charges
Don’t surprise them with delivery charges once they proceed to purchase. It simply annoys the users and makes them feel as if you have tricked them. Mention all the charges on the product page itself.
If you are reducing the price of a product, don’t just say it is on discount. Make sure that you strike out the old price to make it stand out. This psychologically makes users feel they are getting a big discount.
Add to cart and Buy button
Make sure that the CTA buttons are prominently displayed. If the user clicks on add to cart button make sure that you ask them if they want to check out right away or continue shopping. Imagine you add to cart and then the user again has to go their cart to make that purchase. That can be irritating.
Know more about effective Call to Action buttons here.
This is a good way to take users to a different product page. Show users what they might also like, what they can combine with the product they are viewing and so on. This also increases the chances of users buy the other product as well.
This is a crucial moment. Make sure that the experience on this page is frictionless. Here are a few things you need to take care of –
Paypal is a commonly accepted payment method, but it is advisable that you provide users with other payment options as well. There are various options on Shopify, you can have a look at the list of payment processors here.
Proceed to checkout
Make sure you don’t make it mandatory for users to create an account for them to proceed with the purchase. Once users proceed to purchase, make sure the rest of the journey is as short as it can be.
Add apps and integrate them correctly
Make sure that you have integrated apps correctly. You don’t want to end up having apps that do not function.
Here are a few suggested apps –
Spin the wheel-
Grab users attention by trying out something different. Gamification encourages users to give it a shot. Check it out for yourself, does it work properly? Where do the emails show up and so on. You don’t want to scramble around for it at the very last moment.
Push notifications are effective when it comes to building a marketing list on your new store. Users are usually reluctant to give out their email address especially if it is a new store. With web push, users can opt for notifications with just one click. It helps you engage, retarget users and encourage them to convert.
You can read all about web push notifications in this in-depth guide.
If given an option, most of the users prefer clearing their doubt on a live chat rather than open their mail to send you an email or give a call. Live chat not only help your solve users queries but also help you make a sale.
Check out these live chat templates to know how you can encourage users to talk to you and make a make a purchase.
No matter how carefully you have written all the copy on your website, you tend to miss out on things. Do a double check and run it through a fresh pair of eyes. You can also check out the grammar here.
Set up inventory tracking
You need to keep track of what is in stock and what is not. You don’t want to end up telling users the product that they like is out of stock. That creates a super bad user experience. If the product is not available, what is the point of showing the product in the first place? It is advisable that you show how many products are left (if it is less than 10). This creates a sense of urgency as well.
Analytics in place
Make sure that you are tracking everything in GA-
You need to know where the users come from, the average duration they stay, the bounce rate and so on – know what you should be tracking.
Integrating the blog
Yes, even if you are an e-commerce store, you need to have a blog. It could be anything from what you sell- how it can help them, how you make the products, about your team and so on. It gives your store a humane touch as well.
Check out this example, where they are giving users ideas for Mother’s Day, encouraging them to buy those from their store –
See what folks from Ahrefs say when it comes to creating evergreen content for an e-commerce store.
Finally, step into user’s shoes
Make a purchase yourself – start from scratch.
- Is account creation working seamlessly?
- Are you able to add products to the cart?
- Was checkout smooth?
- Are you able to cancel/return the product?
Also, make sure that you compare your store with your competitors and see what they are doing.
Last but not the least, add product reviews and testimonials with photographs once users start buying. This helps build authenticity and encourages users to buy from you.
Checklist for Shopify stores
Ultimate Pre-launch Checklist for Shopify Stores – Click to download
Save it, print it and keep it handy. Make sure that are ready before you take the big leap. If there is something that you think can be added to the checklist for Shopify stores, write in the comments below.